It happens every year. At 28-35 days old, one of the Pitt peregrine chicks stumbles off the nest surface into the gully below. People watching the camera get worried. The chick will be fine.
Today (5/16/2018) at 2:52p there was confusion on the nest surface as Hope brought in a dead red-winged blackbird for the afternoon snack. One of the chicks backed up to the edge of the box and lost his balance. Oops! He disappeared from view.
The video above shows what happened. We can still hear him! He is close by and he is very annoyed!
Soon he’ll start exploring below and eating the scraps that fell from above. His parents will bring him food. He might come back to the nest or he might not. He doesn’t need to. He’s fine.
CORRECTION on FRIDAY MAY 18: I was wrong when I thought the chick’s parents would not feed him in the gully. He is being fed where he is so he has no reason to come back up to the gravel where you can see him on camera.
Here’s why I was confused: Dorothy (the previous female peregrine who lived at the Cathedral of Learning for 15 years) did not feed a chick in the gully; she waited for the chick to return. After 15 years of watching Dorothy I thought all peregrines were like her. Hope doesn’t play by Dorothy’s rules. Hope feeds the chick no matter where he is.
For more information on the area below the nest and video footage of a chick returning to the nest, see this vintage blog from 2015: Below The Nest.
A Note to Commenters: Watch the video of the chick climbing back into the nest at this link — Below The Nest — before you comment.
(video from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)
p.s. Humans cannot go back to the nest now without risking the death of one/both chicks. The chicks are beyond banding age, very active but they cannot fly. Nonetheless, they will jump to their deaths to escape predators (i.e. humans). Human intervention at this point would be deadly.